When Orian Breaux came to RPI he was a little bit shy. He thought checking out a swing dance club might be a way to meet people and have a little fun.
He liked it. A lot.
Now a senior in RPI's aeronautical engineering program Orian is about to launch into a project that has -- well -- pretty much nothing to do with aeronautical engineering. This Friday during Troy Night Out, he and his girlfriend, Emily McNeight -- a math major at RPI, (they met at swing dancing) -- will host the grand opening of The Swing Syndicate, which they hope will be a hub for swing dance in the Capital Region.
Swing dancing has been popular in the Capital Region for quite a while now. There are regular swing dance nights at places like The Fuze Box, Daisy Baker's, and the Saratoga Music Hall, but Orian and Emily are hoping The Swing Syndicate will be kind of a home for local swing dancers.
They've got four instructors and they're planning to teach classes, but Orian says they want to hold regular dances with live bands as well -- local and national acts. "A dance studio like Fred Astaire or Arthur Murray will teach a watered down version of what we will in our swing studio. It's an experience that we're offering -- an experience in the swing dance world."
The Syndicate will offer all levels of classes. A six week session is $70, with a one-hour crash course for $10. Admission to the dances will be around $15. They're planing to have about eight big dances a year with smaller "practice dances" on weeknights.
Orian and Emily are pretty passionate about swing. They've danced competitively all over the country. "I personally love the music, but I think the biggest attraction is the social aspect of it. I think some of it is the ability to connect with people in and individual manner, but in a quick manner too. In the course of a night you're dancing with many people and you're creating something that has never been with each one."
But back to that whole aeronautical engineering thing. Orian graduates from RPI in December and Emily is a working toward a degree in mathematics. And, yes, Orian says his parents would prefer he try engineering before getting into the swing dance business. But he says the leap from engineering to swing dancing isn't as big as you might think. He's been surprised by how many engineers he's met through swing competitions and events around the country.
He's looking toward graduate school, but he and Emily plan to continue running the studio. "I'm not really looking at my life in terms of 'I'm graduating with an engineering degree,'" Orian says. "It's just a degree and if I'm passionate about something I'm gonna pursue it. I'm not losing focus on getting into the space industry. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I want to be involved in the movement to privatize space flight. Maybe I'll start a dance studio on the moon -- go back to my roots."
The Swing Syndicate
212 River Street
Troy, NY 12180
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